The African Fish Eagle

April 15, 2013

The African Fish Eagle is indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa and is found wherever there are large quantities of fish such as freshwater lakes, rivers and lagoons. The African Fish Eagle is very large with a wingspan of about 2m (6 feet). The body is mostly brown with very large and powerful black wings. What makes it so distinguishable is the head, breast and tail that are pure white. Due to its diet of fish, it has a hook-shaped beak and extraordinarily powerful talons. One must have seen many wildlife videos of this amazing bird when it swoops down to the lake and scoops up an unsuspecting fish in its powerful talons – an amazing sight to behold. With its distinctive cry that sends chills down your spine on any African safari.

You will mostly spot the bird perched high in a tall tree, surveying its territory and watching the waters below trying to spot its prey. Once spotted it swoops down low over the water and throws its feet forward, catching the prey in its talons. The prey will be carried in the air to a higher perch, if it is not too much of a large catch, otherwise it will be dragged through the water to the shoreline. The male and female mate for life and are often seen in pairs sharing a kill made by either one of them. They breed during the dry season and nest in large trees that can support their substantial nests. The female lays one to three eggs. The chicks hatch individually over a few days, and the eldest one often eats the first born. After a mere two weeks the chick is strong enough to feed itself and after one month it can spread its wings and leave the nest.

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